The Brilliance of Michael Kenna

Michael Kenna is a rare modern photographer — his work is both lauded by the art world and has crossed over into the mainstream market. You can walk into some of the most rarefied galleries in the US or abroad and see his original prints, or go on to Overstock and buy a framed poster. What is the appeal?

Kenna creates ethereal, beautiful landscapes with high contrast, and small format. His works jewel boxes, taking us along for a trip to see the world around us anew.

Winter Sun, Kami Oumu, Hokkaido, Japan. 2004

Born in Lancashire, England and currently residing in Seattle, Washington, Kenna is best known for his works of Asia, specifically Japan. He is also an accomplished commercial photographer who has worked with some of the world’s leading brands. On the more serious front, Kenna has also turned his lens to subjects including concentration camps and the changing landscape of the Middle East. His image below of the railway lines at Birkenau is haunting and beautiful, a counterpoint to the horrors that took place in this slice of the Polish countryside.

Railway Lines and Entry Building, Birkenau, Poland, 1992

Kenna is represented by a who’s who of galleries around the world and is often the subject of individual and part of group exhibitions. Next time you have an opportunity to see his work in a city near you, I highly recommend it.